By Janene Scully
Noozhawk North County Editor
Paul Hood, who led the Santa Barbara Local Agency Formation Commission for seven years, is remembered as a decent guy with decades of knowledge about the state-created process to prevent urban sprawl and encourage orderly growth.
Hood, 71, died May 11, just weeks after the non-smoker had been diagnosed with lung cancer, his family said.
He joined the Santa Barbara County agency in 2013 after retiring five years earlier from leading the San Luis Obispo County LAFCO.
LAFCO, made up of local elected officials and appointees, works to ensure orderly creation and development of local agencies such as cities and special districts.
“He was well respected around the state and all 57 other counties looked to him for guidance and direction,” LAFCO Commissioner Roger Welt said. “He was knowledgeable. He was a friend. He loved his children. He loved his family. He was always taking about his children.
“I’m just overwhelmed with this loss,” Welt added.
“He’s such a decent, good person,” said 5th District Supervisor Steve Lavagnino, who serves on LAFCO. “This job can sometimes be very controversial and he was such a cool head that never got riled. I never saw him upset, no matter if he was challenged. He was just such a calm personality and he will be greatly missed.”
Third District Supervisor Joan Hartmann, another LAFCO commissioner, said Hood had worked closely with Los Olivos residents during the formation of a community services district, showing up early and staying late at many intense meetings. Likewise, he helped other agencies such as Vandenberg Village and Mission Hills community service districts with their concerns.
“It wasn’t just a brief phone call. He was there. He was giving of himself,” Hartmann said. “He spent the time. He was just tireless. He was so decent and just always went above and beyond. I think we all have terribly heavy hearts.”
A native of England, Hood immigrated to the United States in the mid-1960s with his parents and two younger sisters.
The family settled in Sacramento, and Hood later earned a bachelor’s degree from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, and a master of business administration degree from Cal State Hayward (now Cal State East Bay).
Hood worked in public administration in Sacramento and then the Local Agency Formation Commission in San Mateo County before settling in Atascadero for the past 40 years.
He continued his lifelong career with LAFCO until his retirement as executive officer with San Luis Obispo County in 2009 after nearly three decades on the job.
He was recruited from retirement to lead Santa Barbara LAFCO.
Goleta Councilmember Roger Aceves recalled being on the commission when Hood was hired.
“The guy came with such incredible credentials…,” Aceves said, adding it was obvious commissioners needed to hire him.
“I think the commission should also stop and realize he left our organization in a very strong financial condition,” Aceves added. “He created some big shoes to fill.”
Santa Maria Councilmember Etta Waterfield spoke about Hood’s gentle soul who made sure others understood any question about LAFCO matters.
“He was a walking encyclopedia when it came to LAFCO,” Waterfield added.
Hood received at least two awards from the California Association of Local Agency Formation Commissions, including the Outstanding LAFCO Professional Award in 2002 and seven years later, the Mike Gotch Courage and Innovation in Local Government Award.
The award, recognizing someone who has taken extraordinary steps to improve and innovate local government, is named for Mike Gotch, a former state Assembly member, LAFCO executive officer and CALAFCO executive director responsible for much of the foundations of LAFCO law and the state association.
“Paul was and will continue to be a source of great inspiration for LAFCO staff and commissioners statewide, just as Mike Gotch continues to be,” said Pamela Miller, executive director of CALAFCO.
Hood also served as CALAFCO deputy executive officer in 2006 and 2007, and the state association’s executive officer in 2008 and 2009.
Hood belonged to the San Luis Obispo Rotary Club, served as chairman of the Atascadero Parks and Recreation Commission and was president of the Atascadero Zoological Society.
Survivors include his wife of 43 years, Terri; their three children, Joanna, Jeffrey and Julia; two sisters, Carole and Susan; and several nieces and nephews.
The family plans to schedule a memorial service once COVID-19 restrictions have been eased.
Arrangements are under the care of Welch-Ryce-Haider Funeral Chapels in Santa Barbara.